Canvey Island vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 7th January, 3 pm – Match Preview

Cray Wanderers are on the road for the first time in 2023 on Saturday as Neil Smith’s side head to Canvey Island for the first time in the Isthmian Premier since December 2013.

The Wands continued their great form in November and December on Monday afternoon with a 3-0 win at home to Herne Bay which made it four wins in a row and unbeaten in eight games to move up to 2nd in the Isthmian Premier League table.  Cray have 42 points, just one behind leaders Hornchurch after 24 matches, the only side in the league to be up to date with fixtures at this stage of the season.

On Saturday, Cray had to work hard to get past a spirited Herne Bay side but Dan Bassett opened the scoring with his 11th goal of the season.  The game was given an amber sheen in the last ten minutes as Tom Derry notched his seventh goal of the season and three successive games on target.  Three minutes from time Jalen Jones headed his second of the campaign to seal the victory. The clean sheet was Shaun Rowley’s eighth of the season and his third in the last five league games.

The recent run earned Neil Smith the December Isthmian Premier Manager of the Month and his first Isthmian league award.  

However, the Wands recent good form will be tested to the limit by a very strong Canvey Island side who have acclimatised to life back in the Isthmian Premier well and currently lie 6th in the table and have held a very consistently high league position all season.  Canvey, who were promoted from the Isthmian North via the playoffs last season were 1-0 winners at last season’s North champions Aveley on Monday with Bradley Sach’s second half goal which ended a two game losing run. Brad Wellmen’s side are on 38 points level on goal difference with Aveley but just behind on goals scored.

The two sides met at Hayes Lane early in the season on 20th August and was a tight game of few chances but Cray won the game with an injury time winner from Billy Crook.

The Wands recent record at Canvey Island is not great with the last win 11 years ago to the day on 7th January 2012 when goals from Tommy Whitnell and Jack Clark helped Cray to a 2-1 win.  Since then Canvey have won the last two league meetings at Park Lane, 1-0 and 4-0 and also beat Cray in the FA Trophy in the 2018-19 season, 2-0 in October 2018 and in the 4th Qualifiying Round of the FA Cup in October 2020 winning 3-2.

Form at home has been pretty solid and have beaten Hornchurch and Bishop’s Stortford in the league and Enfield Town in the FA Cup so will definitely be tough to beat.

At home, Canvey have beaten Hornchurch (2-1), Corinthian Casuals (2-1), Bognor Regis Town (3-2), Kingstonian (3-0), Bishop’s Stortford (2-0), Folkestone Invicta (3-0) and Brightlingsea Regent (3-0). Canvey drew with Haringey Borough (1-1), Carshalton Athletic (1-1) and Hastings United (1-1) and were beaten by Horsham (1-3), Wingate & Finchley (0-3) and Bowers & Pitsea (0-2) on Boxing Day.  Away from home, Canvey won at Brightlingsea Regent (5-1), Potters Bar Town (2-1), Herne Bay (4-1) and Aveley (1-0). They picked up points at Bowers & Pitsea, Enfield Town and Hastings United and were beaten at Cray Wanderers, Margate, Billericay Town and Horsham.  In the FA Cup, Canvey beat Enfield Town in the 1st Qualifying Round before losing at home to St. Ives Town. Like Cray, Canvey Island were eliminated from the FA Trophy in the 3rd Qualifying Round by Bracknell Town. Canvey are through to the 3rd Round of the Essex Senior Cup after eliminating Hashtag United on penalties and are away to Bowers & Pitsea on Tuesday, 10th January.  Bradley Sach is top scorer with 12 with Evans Kouassi not far behind on 11.

Both sides have had a very good first half of the season and this should be one of the games of the day in the league and should attract a good sized crowd.


Canvey Island FC – The Movie Starr Stadium, Park Lane, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 7PX


Admission: £12 adults, £7 concessions/Students with valid ID, £2 u16s (accompanied)  

Programme: Printed

By Car:

Exit M25 at Junction 30 and take the A13 towards Southend. You will reach a series of mini roundabouts. At these roundabouts, take the A130 towards Canvey Island. At the next roundabout take the 2nd exit which will keep a sports centre on your right and follow signs for Canvey Island Football Club. Eventually, you will enter a one way system. Keep left through the one way system and after one mile you will pass the Transport Museum on your right. Park Lane is on the right hand side shortly afterwards, with the stadium located in front of you. There is plenty of parking outside the ground.

By Train:


If you can get to Benfleet Station, the ground is five miles away from the station. Your best bet from there is by bus as it is too far to walk.

By Bus:

You can use the number 22 or 27 bus to Leigh Beck to be dropped directly outside Park Lane. Alternatively, you can use the number 21 or 21A to be dropped by the sea wall. From here, continue walking in the direction you travelled across some playing fields, and you will see ground on your left.  

If you arrive in Canvey Island in good time the club house at the ground is highly recommended but for pubs in Canvey Island there is the Lobster Smack, a Dickensian themed pub/restaurant which used to feature bare knuckle boxing in the Victorian era (Haven Road, SS8 0NR), the Haystack Public House (96 Furtherwick Road, SS8 7AE) and Windjammer (Eastern Esplanade SS8 7HG).  For Benfleet Station, there is the Hoy and Helmet which is just across the road in the High Street.  Opposite is the Half Crown.  The recommended chippie is the Islander on Furtherwick Road near the Haystack Pub.   

Canvey Island is a reclaimed island in the Thames Estuary and the coastal part of the Island became a fashionable place to live and visit especially for Londoners looking for a bit of sea air. It has a promenade of amusements, clubs and stalls which are situated not too far away from the ground.  Sadly, the area being fairly low is prone to flooding and in February 1953, the North Sea flood hit the island leading to 58 deaths and damage to holiday homes. The South of the island has been associated with the petrochemical industry and oil refineries have been based there since the 1930’s.  

Canvey Island also has a musical heritage especially in pub rock and new wave with the bands Dr Feelgood and Eddie and the Hot Rods hailing from the Island.